Stepping out of the ring

If you're a seasoned fan of wrestling games then the name Fire Pro Wrestling will mean an awful lot to you. Viewed by many gamers as the first serious video game representation of wrestling, the franchise has enjoyed instalments on a wide range of systems, including the SNES, PC Engine, Dreamcast and Game Boy Advance. Sadly, Masato Masuda — the man behind this esteemed grappling lineage — has passed away aged 48.

Masuda created Pro Wrestling — the forerunner to Fire Pro — for the Famicom Disk System way back in 1986, and it received a western release (complete with infamous "A WINNER IS YOU" text) a year later.

Amazingly, Masuda conceived, designed and coded the game single-handedly, only seeking the assistance of a single artist to create the visuals. Fire Pro Wrestling Combination Tag would follow on the PC Engine in 1989, and Masuda was heavily involved with the overall direction of the franchise for many years. In 2000, Japanese developer Spike took over from Human Entertainment, with the most recent entry hitting Xbox Live Arcade in 2012.

As well as working on Fire Pro, Masuda also created the strategy title Vasteel and racing game F1 Triple Battle, both for the PC Engine.

Grasshopper's Goichi "Suda51" Suda — who worked on the Fire Pro series during his time at Human as a scenario writer — gave a tribute via his Twitter account:

He was 48 years old, still young. I genuinely pray for his happiness in the next world. He was one of the greatest creators of video games and he was my direct teacher. Thank you for giving us our favorite Fire Pro-wrestling. You are the god of it.

Are you a fan of the series? Which is your favourite instalment? Let us know by leaving a comment, and also share your thoughts on Masuda's passing.